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Huang, "The role of parental expectation, effort and self-efficacy in the achievement of high- and low-track high school students in Taiwan," 1996

USC Dissertation in Education.
August 26, 2009

Denise Huang, Ph.D.

Abstract (Summary)
Current data indicates that the American education system is in a crisis. In contrast, the Asian educational systems have demonstrated their academic excellence, especially in science and mathematics. The central hypotheses for Asian students' academic success are the belief in effort in the Asian culture, and the role of family as a motivating factor. The review of literature demonstrated that Asian parents and students tend to believe in effort, and Asian parents have high standards and expectations for their children. In this study, based on the foundation of Weiner's (1994) attribution theory, Bandura's (1995) theory of self-efficacy and effort, and O'Neil's (1992) theory of worry, the author investigated the effect of effort attributions and parental expectations have on the self-efficacy beliefs and achievement of Taiwanese intermediate high school students.

This study was conducted in Taiwan in two phases. Phase 1, the pilot study, investigated the reliability of the measures. Phase 2, the main study, tested the hypothesized model. In both phases the relationship of tracking was investigated. The subjects of the pilot study consisted of 278 Chinese high school tenth grade students, with 142 attending a prominent public high school and 136 attending a mediocre private high school. The results of the pilot study indicated acceptable reliability of all of the measures.

The subjects of the main study consisted of 383 Chinese intermediate high school ninth grade students, attending a prominent public intermediate high school in Taipei. One hundred seventy-three of these students were discreetly assigned to classes of higher academic standards. Two hundred and ten of these students were assigned to regular track classes. A questionnaire on trait constructs regarding perceived parental expectation, trait ability or belief in ability, trait effort or belief in effort, and trait self-efficacy was distributed to students one month prior to their mathematics final examination. A questionnaire for state constructs of effort, self-efficacy, and worry was distributed to the students right after their taking of the mathematics final examination. Data were analyzed using the multivariate analysis of variance and the structural equation model.

The multivariate analysis of variance (manova) of this study indicated that high track students showed a difference in the factors and in terms of higher mathematics achievement, more trait effort, and higher trait self-efficacy than the regular track students. However, the high and regular track students did not differ in trait ability, and perceived parental expectation. The same results were observed from both the pilot and the main study. The results of the structural equation model using the EQS program (Bentler, 1993) showed that high perceived parental expectation lead to high trait effort. Students who had high trait effort, in turn expended more state effort during the mathematics examination and achieved higher academic results. Trait effort and state effort were found to be among the major causes for these Taiwanese intermediate high school students' success. The results were discussed in terms of both cultural and individual factors. The contributions of this research and recommendations for future research complete this document.

Advisor: O'Neil, Harold Jr.